DNS Host Names and Windows 2000 Computer Names

In Windows 2000, a computer name is a human-friendly name that maps to the IP network address by which the computer is physically located. In Windows NT 4.0 and earlier, a computer is identified primarily by a NetBIOS name — a name that is recognized by WINS, which maps the name to a static IP address or to an address configured dynamically by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) In earlier versions of Windows NT, if DNS was employed, NetBIOS applications queried the DNS namespace by appending a DNS domain name to the NetBIOS name.

To maintain compatibility with NetBIOS names that are used on computers that are not running Windows 2000, Windows 2000 incorporates the NetBIOS computer name as the DNS host name and the DNS domain name as the Primary DNS suffix. These two names are employed as distinct pieces of the full computer name (equivalent to the FQDN, thereby accommodating both DNS and, where needed, NetBIOS.

In Windows 2000, therefore, the full computer name has two parts:

  • DNS host name
    The leftmost label in the fully qualified DNS name. The DNS host name identifies the computer's account that is stored in Active Directory. It is also the name of the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) local computer account on a workstation or member server (a computer that runs Windows NT Server or Windows 2000 Server but is not a domain controller). By default, the DNS host name is also used as the NetBIOS version of the computer name for compatibility with Windows NT 3.5 x and Windows NT 4.0 domains and with computers that are running Windows 95 or Windows 98.


The NetBIOS name and the DNS host name are not necessarily identical because NetBIOS names are limited to 15 bytes in length. If the length of the DNS host name is 15 bytes or less, by default the two names are identical. (For more information about DNS host names, see "Windows 2000 DNS" in the TCP/IP Core Networking Guide .)

  • Primary DNS suffix domain name
    By default, the Windows domain to which the computer is joined. The default can be changed.

Figure 1.3 illustrates the form of a full computer name.


Figure 1.3 Components of a Full Computer Name

For more information about DNS, see "Introduction to DNS" and "Windows 2000 DNS" in the TCP/IP Core Networking Guide .